Happy New Year.
I wish everyone contentment, good health, and even greater success (Russian saying from the Communist era).
I have learned that there are 120 hotels on the Maldives, but only five had fireworks displays for guests last night. Our was one of the five, perhaps because the manager has a good relationship with the minister of tourism or perhaps because they bid higher. Fireworks must be operated by the military, so manpower limits the number displays.
Because hotels are so spread out, competition cannot snatch a free show at the expense of those lucky enough to be able to spoil their guests. Last year, we stayed at a hotel in the middle of Bangkok, who spent money for fireworks for the guests, but ended up putting on a show for half the city.
Fireworks displays add the festivities, but most for me are a Que sera moment. Only a major effort, like Sydney and London each year or Dubai this year make an impression.
All hotels charge a supplement for New Year’s Eve (and Christmas Day), so feel that they have to offer something special to justify the exorbitant fee. People grumble, but all pay. After, it’s New Year’s Eve. Our hotel offered a reception with Moet and Grey Goose vodka: I had one glass of Champagne, but most guests attempted to recoup some value from the fee. To help guests celebrate this special occasion, they lowered the price of a bottle of Dom Perrignon from $500 to $460. We did not take up the offer and still had a very pleasant evening. I managed to stay awake and even caught the fireworks display in Dubai on television...
Or, is it the beginning.
I am not a big fan of forced fun on the last day of the year. Or to be more exact, the last few hours.
But, my wife likes to part and we are in a large hotel, which offers several forms of evening entertainment...most over-priced. We have done this before in Thailand...and Dubai...and the United States. Each seems much the same, with only the digits changing. Che Sera.
We chose the Chinese restaurant version for tonight, because the main celebration was too exorbitant (the Chinese one is only exorbitant) and one must sit outside. Both will be able to enjoy the same fireworks, which is the main purpose for the celebration. Because our room has view of the river, where barges will shoot off the fireworks, we probably could order room service and have the same show.
But, my wife likes to party...
_ The New Year started exactly where the old one left off. I awoke to find the world as it was when I retired: grey, cold, and wet. I did not check the television, but expect that nothing has changed in the world. The news reports will contain similar stories.
That said, the day does cause one to stop and reflect. I notice how quickly time passes. Christmas came and went in a flash. I seem to recall just having been in the hospital, but that was last March. My month in Florida is a distant memory and the time in between holds few memories. After today, I will stop thinking about the passing of time and enjoy each day. If I remember...
_ Life is one long thread from birth to death. For some reason, humans are wont/feel compelled to place artificial markers, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and end of a calendar year. Many, if not most, attach great symbolic meaning and importance to certain days and feel that each requires some form of celebration—from simple acknowledgement to festive extravaganza.
For this old fool on the hill, New Year’s Eve/Day is just another day. I see no reason to celebrate, but usually go along with the flow (dictated by my wife). However, I do have my limits and try to avoid large crowds, drunken idiots, and obnoxious boisterousness. If not prodded by family members, I would probably read a book or watch a film.
This year, we stayed at home and spent the evening preparing and enjoying a nice meal (caviar, foie gras, sole with beurre blanc, mandarin sorbet) and fine wine (Champagne, white Bordeaux, and Trockenbeerenauslese). At midnight, we watched foolish, wasteful people firing off various forms of fireworks (a major German tradition, permitted once each year) and the fireworks from Berlin on television. Germany might lead the world in the economic field, but they do not know how to put on a fireworks display in the capital. A million people partied in the streets, but overhead was lame. They need to watch Sydney or London (very impressive this year) to learn how to blow up money in smoke.
_ One of the better annual traditions is the New Year’s Concert from Vienna. The Vienna Philharmonic is a fine orchestra and puts on a wonderful concert each year. They celebrate Austrian music with a lot of Strauss (there were a bunch of them), but honor a different country each year with a few selections. The broadcast is sprinkled with videos of landscape and ballet dancers in various palace ballrooms. In a world gone crazy with rap music and music videos, the concert/program is comforting.
To give an indication of the traditions which the Vienna Philharmonic is attempting to maintain, one must merely seek female members of the orchestra. It’s a bit like playing Where’s Waldo. This year, I discovered two, one of which played the harp (I don’t recall every seeing a guy playing a harp...other than Harpo). The second one played a cello. My guess is that two are required in order to share a room when the orchestra travels. Worse than having a female in the group would be to have one enjoy a single room.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.